Frank Zappa

A Homage to Frank Zappa and The Mothers Of Invention

Text by Bruce Gallanter (Downtown Music Gallery, December 26th, 2021)

“Brown Shoes Don’t Make It” Written by Frank Zappa,
Recorded by The Mothers of Invention for Absolutely Free

Brown shoes don’t make it
Brown Shoes don’t make it
Quit school, why fake it
Brown shoes don’t make it

TV dinner by the pool
Watch your brother grow a beard
Got another year of school
You’re okay, he’s too weird
Be a plummer
He’s a bummer
He’s a bummer every summer
Be a loyal plastic robot
For a world that doesn’t care
That’s right

Smile at every ugly
Shine on your shoes and cut your hair

Be a jerk-go to work
Be a jerk-go to work
Be a jerk-go to work
Be a jerk-go to work
Do your job, and do it right
Life’s a ball
TV tonight
Do you love it
Do you hate it
There it is
The way you made it

A world of secret hungers
Perverting the men who make your laws
Every desire is hidden away
In a drawer in a desk by a Naugahyde chair
On a rug where they walk and drool
Past the girls in the office

We see in the back
Of the City Hall mind
The dream of a girl about thirteen
Off with her clothes and into a bed
Where she tickles his fancy
All night long

His wife’s attending an orchid show
She squealed for a week to get him to go
But back in the bed his teen-age queen
Is rocking and rolling and acting obscene
Baby, baby…
Baby, baby…

And he loves it, he loves it
It curls up his toes
She wipes his fat neck
And it lights up his nose
But he cannot be fooled
Old City Hall Fred
She’s nasty, she’s nasty
She digs it in bed
That’s right

Do it again, ha
And do it some more
Hey, that does it, by golly
And she’s nasty for sure
Nasty nasty nasty
Nasty nasty nasty
Only thirteen, and she knows how to nasty

She’s a dirty young mind,
Corrupted and corroded
Well she’s thirteen today
And I hear she gets loaded

If she were my daughter, I’d…
What would you do, Daddy?
If she were my daughter, I’d…
What would you do, Daddy?
If she were my daughter, I’d…
What would you do, Daddy?

Smother my daughter in chocolate syrup
And strap her on again, oh baby
Smother that girl in chocolate syrup
And strap her on again, oh baby
She’s my teen-age baby
She turns me on
I’d like to make her do a nasty
On the White House lawn
Smother my daughter in chocolate syrup
And boogie ’till the cows come home

Time to go home
Madge is on the phone
Got to meet the Gurney’s and a dozen gray attorneys
TV dinner by the pool
I’m so glad I finished school
Life is such a ball
I run the world from City Hall

In June of 1967, right before the Summer of Love, I turned 13 and was Bar Mitzvahed. I became a man according to the Jewish religion and started to buy albums rather than the singles that I had collected since 1965. After buying a handful of greatest hit records, I bought a copy of Freak-Out!’ by the Mothers of Invention based on a review I read in Hit Parade magazine and the fact that the cover was even weirder than any of the psychedelic records that were released that year.

At first, I wasn’t so sure that I liked that Mothers record, but I kept listening and thinking about the lyrics and liner notes by Frank Zappa. It soon became my favorite record of the year so I was primed to check out Absolutely Free, the second Mothers album which was released earlier that year. It also took me a while to figure out that second LP as well and it became another fave.

I began to understand the way Mr. Zappa viewed our flawed world/society and the way he made fun of nearly every aspect of the way things seemed to be. The name of the Mothers of Invention’s fan club was called United Mutations and Zappa used the terms “freaks” to describe those who question the way things are. This record opens with “Plastic People”, who Mr. Zappa describes as “posers”, fake hipsters, fake hippies, fake patriots, etc.

Suburban Bohemia, my old improv ensemble which as been around since 1976 (with ever-evolving personnel), will be performing a version of “Plastic People” this coming Tuesday (12/21/21) here at DMG at around 8pm with MC Bruce Lee doing the lead vocal. The above song “Brown Shoes Don’t Make” comes from side two of Absolutely Free and it really skewers both politicians and plastic people alike. I always laughed at the line “I’d like to make her do a nasty on the White House lawn.” Was that written 55 years ago with the Fake Prez in mind?!?

After all of this time, I still am fascinated by the lyrics, music and production of the original Mothers of Invention albums. If you decide to take a chance with any of the original Mothers’ records (1966-1970), please listen to them from the beginning to the end and listen several times before making any judgement. Once they get under your skin, you too will become a “Freak”. United Mutations unite!